Saturday, October 31, 2015

Picking up stitches, begrudgingly

Binic knit baby sweater  |  Picking up stitches, begrudgingly on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

After knitting quite a few pieces that are sure to fit this little one through his or her first week (and then never to be worn again), I've finally got something ready that he or she hopefully won't have already outgrown by the time we get home from the hospital. Measuring in at about 4 inches wider and 2 inches longer than my previous knits, I'm thinking this might last until month 2, or maybe 3. With the envelope folds on the shoulder, which making pulling garments on and off a baby easier, perhaps even longer.

And while I'm happy to have broadened his or her wardrobe a smidgen, I fought with this sweater quite a bit and now have more proof than ever to support the importance of Lesson #3, which I theoretically was already supposed to have learned last summer, on my list of filters to use when choosing a pattern to knit, that is:

I do NOT like setting in sleeves.

For non-knitters, that's the process of finishing the body of a garment first, and then either knitting the sleeves separately and attaching them to the armholes, or picking up stitches from the armhole and beginning the sleeves from there. 

It's a tedious, not super exact or neat (at least for me) process that I find infuriating. 

Much better to go with raglan-sleeve sweaters (as seen in the lead photo here), a technique that allows you to start the sleeves while you're knitting the body (so there's no need to either attach a finished, separately-knit sleeve or pick up stitches from around an armhole) or, even better, the kind where you knit the sleeves while knitting the body and then you seam them together (as seen in the last group of photos here).

Tediousness and fury at my lap of yarn aside, at least this baby now has something handmade and wooly to wear through his or her first Swedish winter.

P.S. Ravelry project notes here.

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One year ago: Speaking Swedish & Andalucía: Jerez + Carmona & Swedish healthcare
Two years ago: A toast to changes

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Longing for autumn

Ulvsundasjön, Stockholm in autumn  |  Longing for autumn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

Like everyone else (mainly my fellow women), I tend to go a little crazy in the fall—it's my favorite time of the year and what I essentially wait around through three other seasons for—the colors, the scents, the food, the clothes, the crunch of leaves under boots, the fact that it's perfect knitting weather, the cool, crispness of the air, the activities.

There's no other season that can compare.

When we first got married R and I went to Miami for a long weekend and as we'd rented a convertible, we drove around the neighborhoods by the beach quite a bit, falling completely in love with Coconut Grove—so much so that we actually went to an Open House. But then I realized:

There is NO fall in Florida.

And that was the end of our very-short-lived idea of moving to Miami.

But now that fall has finally fully descended upon Stockholm—and the view outside our windows is gloriously painted in shades of saffron, orange and persimmon, and Instagram is filled with people frolicking under gorgeous, blazing leaves—I'm turning a bit green.

Green with envy at being stuck inside, trying to enjoy fall from behind a pane of glass, and missing out on a season of taking long, waterside walks under blazing canopies, cerulean skies and inhaling a breeze faintly tainted with chimney smoke.

All because I'm nearing the end of my pregnancy and our little one has decided to position itself in such a way that something of his or hers is pressing up against a nerve (I'm assuming—I'm visiting a physical therapist next week to be sure), which means I can't walk. Or rather, I can, but it's painful and extremely slow and sometimes the sharp, shooting pain is so much that I yelp and nearly fall over.

So rather than be plagued by discomfort and stopped every few feet by the very, very kind Swedes (both women and men alike) who inquire, "Går det bra? Behöver du hjälp?" (Is everything okay? Do you need help?), I've essentially cloistered myself at home.

Except for a few days ago, when I made my way downstairs and out to the waterfront path that runs in front of our building to get some fresh air and take the picture above.

Totally worth the grimacing.

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One year ago: Leaving Hammarby Sjöstad
Two years ago: Easing into winter & Neighborly
Three years ago: Hurricane Sandy & Forward & Foiled & Not a first

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto & Marzamemi

Evening in Noto, Sicily  |  Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto and Marzamemi on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com


After our quick jaunt over to Lampedusa last month, we spent a few days back in R's hometown before we jumped in the car with his brother and his brother's girlfriend for a mini road-trip two hours down the south-eastern coast of Sicily.

My brother-in-law is completely enamored with the Baroque town of Noto (a World Heritage Site) and insisted we take a trip there (his 4th of the year!), so we planned to head there with a few side trips. First we drove straight from Taormina to Fontane Bianche, the main seaside resort for the city dwellers of Siracusa, and checked into Residence Villa Eva, our B&B for the night. Given the hot, dusty drive down, we spent an hour at the pool cooling off before showering and getting ready for the short drive to Noto for dinner.

Sicilian hills  |  Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto and Marzamemi on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Residence Villa Eva, Fontane Bianche, Sicily  |  Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto and Marzamemi on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com


Driving up the cobblestone streets, we parked a block behind the gorgeous cathedral and walked down to the main street—and had a major sense of déjà vu, as it reminded both R and me of Medina-Sidonia, from our Andalucían road trip last September. The sun was just setting and all the early 18th century buildings were backlit, glowing as only buildings built with the care, attention and precision of that time can.

After days of intense heat, the soft, sultry breeze that blew along the narrow streets was so very welcome. So much so that we lingered on the church steps chatting and taking pictures before finally venturing down the street to dinner at Ristorante Dammuso.

Noto, Sicily building facade  |  Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto and Marzamemi on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Noto Cathedral, Sicily  |  Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto and Marzamemi on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Made in Sicily  |  Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto and Marzamemi on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Noto arch, Sicily  |  Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto and Marzamemi on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Fiat 500 + Antique Vespa, Noto, Sicily  |  Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto and Marzamemi on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com


The next morning, after breakfast on the residence's sunny terrace, we packed up and drove further south to visit Marzamemi, a pretty fishing village with a famous tonnara (a place where freshly-caught tuna is prepped for preservation and sale) built by the Arabs in the 10th century. The little town is very quaint and not at all showy, and the Arab touches are evident everywhere.

As the town was once home to Sicily's most important tuna business, it retains its claim to artisanal fishing and processing activities and is known today for its canned tuna, bottarga (dried tuna roe), and smoked swordfish—a mix of which we brought home for us to enjoy (after my pregnancy).

It was a little overcast the morning we visited, but something about the gray skies and moody ambiance suited the little town just right.

Piazza Santa Margherita, Noto, Sicily  |  Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto and Marzamemi on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Piazza Santa Margherita, Marzamemi, Sicily  |  Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto and Marzamemi on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Piazza Santa Margherita, Marzamemi, Sicily  |  Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto and Marzamemi on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Piazza Santa Margherita, Marzamemi, Sicily  |  Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto and Marzamemi on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Fishing boats, Marzamemi, Sicily  |  Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto and Marzamemi on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Marina, Marzamemi, Sicily  |  Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto and Marzamemi on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com


I wasn't feeling too well (the aromas from the seafood delicacy shops were potent!), so after a little loop through the town I found a place to sit and enjoy the view while everyone else continued to poke about the boutiques.

Before leaving town we strolled over to da Carletto, for the most amazing sweet treat (on par with granite)—something called a cremolate, which I tried for the first time that day. It's a mix of gelato and granita and flat out incredible.

By the time we were satiated and ready to head back to the car, the sun had come out completely from behind the clouds and we decided to make one more stop before the drive home. We followed the curvy roads a bit north until we arrived in San Lorenzo, another beach town, where we found a beach club with comfy sun loungers (mostly for me, as the prospect of heaving myself up and down onto the sand didn't sound so fun). We settled ourselves in for the afternoon, enjoying the view out towards the mainland.

Marzamemi, Sicily views  |  Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto and Marzamemi on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
San Lorenzo beach, Sicily  |  Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto and Marzamemi on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
San Lorenzo beach, Sicily  |  Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto and Marzamemi on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
San Lorenzo beach, Sicily  |  Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto and Marzamemi on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
San Lorenzo beach, Sicily  |  Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto and Marzamemi on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
San Lorenzo beach, Sicily  |  Postcard from Fontane Bianche, Noto and Marzamemi on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com


When the sun was preparing to set we gathered our things and headed back to the car for the drive home, but when we were still about 45 minutes away our tummies began grumbling so we did the only thing that made sense—we got off the highway in Catania for cocktails and platters of arancini.

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One year ago: Gloomy gray Stockholm & October on Djurgården
Two years ago: Autumnal oil concoction

Monday, October 26, 2015

Kolmården: the zoo that's not at all like a zoo

Kolmården Zoo, rhinoceros  |  Kolmården: the zoo that's not at all like a zoo on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com


As we're easing our way into the darkest months of the year (the Daylight Savings time switch this past weekend means that it's now nearly pitch black outside by just after 5PM), I realized I never shared our last summer outing in Sweden at the end of August when we drove two hours south of Stockholm to Kolmården, a zoo near Norrköping.

But when I say "zoo" I don't mean "zoo", because spending the day at Kolmården made me realize that the American version of zoos I'm accustomed to does not even remotely compare to the Swedish (or this Swedish) version. I wouldn't even call it a zoo, it's more like a nature reserve combined with someone's very well-maintained backyard.

Zoos have always meant animals in cages crammed one after the other to me. Not vast, beautifully-manicured open spaces with animals amicably hanging out together. I've never seen anything like it. Not only are there no cages at Kolmården, but there aren't any of your typical, animal-restraining fences either. By using very simple, rustic wooden fences—the type you might see in a garden, not to contain wild animals—or a combination of very discreet wires and effectively-placed, water-filled ditches, visitors are essentially a few feet away from animals without blatantly-obstructive barriers between them. In the picture above, I didn't zoom in, that's really how close we were.

Kolmården Zoo  |  Kolmården: the zoo that's not at all like a zoo on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Kolmården Zoo, bears  |  Kolmården: the zoo that's not at all like a zoo on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com


R and his friends used to visit Kolmården quite often when he lived in Stockholm in his twenties, which might seem like a strange thing for young guys to do, but back then it was a do-it-yourself, safari-style animal park. People drove their cars into the park and through the animal enclosures, i.e., right next to loping giraffes, ambling bears, and yawning lions (which I can't even fathom).

Guards with guns (which I'm assuming were stun guns) were stationed throughout in case any animal became too aggressive, but still, the idea is fairly shocking to me. After having experienced that, he (quite naturally) found the newly-designed Kolmården a bit tame and boring, but for someone who has only experienced American-style zoos I was completely charmed by the bucolic setup, especially as the animals seemed to be so content, and walking through the park was so very calming and serene.

(The enjoyment of which manifests in ticket prices—I was a bit speechless when we paid about $80 for the two of us to enter, but after seeing how well-cared for the animals and environment were, I didn't mind...at least not nearly as much as I did when we first paid.)

The other aspect that made Kolmården so inviting and pleasant to me was how the park was partly divided into mixed-animal habitats, like the savannah (in the opening picture), where rhinos, gazelles and the like meandered about each other, as they might in real life.

Apart from walking around the different areas, we also saw the dolphin show (we have an affinity for all things dolphin), which was impressive, with a mix of moving (the dolphins performing to My Heart Will Go On and The Circle of Life — it's like they knew me!) and instructive, as one part of the show included a somewhat scary and definitely impressionable film, complete with intense sound effects and strobing green and red lights, where the Swedes took the opportunity to send out a social message with a story of how our thoughtless actions (i.e., not recycling, wasting and polluting water, etc.) are negatively affecting dolphin habitats.

Kolmården Zoo, dolphin show  |  Kolmården: the zoo that's not at all like a zoo on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Kolmården Zoo, dolphin show  |  Kolmården: the zoo that's not at all like a zoo on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com


We made the trip down with our friend and her daughter, meaning that besides touring around the park, I spent 90% of my time trying to make R behave and not set too bad of an example for the 4-year old, as he spent 110% of his time (1) stepping over the little rock border that leads into the animals' enclosures, which of course she immediately wanted to do, too, (2) pretending to throw food to the animals, like pieces of bread to the lions, directly in front of the "please do not feed the animals" sign, and (3) making aggressive sounds at the gorillas.

(Of course he wasn't really doing anything that would endanger her or himself and wasn't really aggravating the animals, he just happens to find particular joy in making me crazy, which is still possible after 10 years, as I have apparently not yet learned to detect his telltale, pulling-your-leg signs.)

Kolmården Zoo, cable car view Bråviken  |  Kolmården: the zoo that's not at all like a zoo on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Kolmården Zoo, cable car safari  |  Kolmården: the zoo that's not at all like a zoo on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Kolmården Zoo, cable car safari zebra zoom  |  Kolmården: the zoo that's not at all like a zoo on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Kolmården Zoo, cable car view  |  Kolmården: the zoo that's not at all like a zoo on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com


At the end of the day we rode the cable car that carries you above the safari (giraffes, lions, tigers, zebras, etc.). Not only was there a beautiful view of the animals doing their thing, but also out towards Bråviken, the bay that borders Kolmården. The line was very, very long to get onto the cable cars, but those views were completely worth it.

Kolmården Zoo, animals going to their barns  |  Kolmården: the zoo that's not at all like a zoo on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Kolmården Zoo, animals going to their barns  |  Kolmården: the zoo that's not at all like a zoo on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com


Before we left we made one more loop through the park as it was closing and saw the most amazingly Swedish thing ever: the caretakers had signaled to the animals that it was time to head to their nighttime enclosures and I kid you not, those animals marched themselves, in line, within their own herds, out of the paddocks and into their barns, one group at a time with no corralling or encouraging from anyone, as if they'd taken a numbered ticket at the customer service counter of a boutique, Swedish style.

It was surreal to see—like witnessing the boarding of Noah's Ark (or watching the opening scene of The Lion King), when in reality, it was just those exotic animals showing their total assimilation into Swedish culture.

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One year ago: Postcard from Andalucía: Malaga
Two years ago: Raw cacao cashew crunch cups & Postcard from St. Lucia

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The second trimester

Sailboat on Ulvikssjön in Stockholm  |  The second trimester on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

Like everyone said it would be, the second trimester was the most pleasant one of my pregnancy. The first one was uncomfortable, and now that I'm currently in my third I can say that it's also quite a bit uncomfortable, but the second? The second was very enjoyable.

About six weeks into it I had finally begun to show and apart from needing to dress a bit differently, I often forgot that I was pregnant until I passed a reflective surface. While I didn't notice the burst of energy, glowing skin and thicker hair that many women experience during the second trimester, just feeling normal was enough of a boon for me.

Towards the end of July, around my halfway mark, we had our second and final sonogram, known as the anatomy scan. We walked in nervously, but by the end we were smiling as the midwife pronounced the baby to (seemingly) be in perfect health.

We left the clinic in Östermalm and went straight to a baby store in Vasastan to begin trying out strollers and perusing cribs and other baby accoutrement. Over the next few weeks we began researching and selecting our baby gear, as well as birthing centers (we've since picked one that will allow me to have the water birth I always wanted!), and began the inevitable investigation into the requirements of our respective countries when it comes to registering our baby's birth.

Other second trimester highlights:
  • Making pancakes while singing and dancing along to a Spotify playlist when I suddenly became emotional over my bowl of batter as I remembered what I had read that morning: the baby could now hear and recognize my voice.

  • The first time I felt the baby's movements. It was during Week 19 and just after I had woken up but was still laying down. I had turned onto my left side and felt four very distinct "pokes", which made me laugh because I imagined the baby tapping me to let me know that the position I had just moved into was not working for him/her. But, it wasn't until the end of August, when I was a few weeks shy of starting my third trimester that R was finally able to feel his child moving inside of me.

  • Weekly physical changes, the most noticeable of which was the round ligament pain that began after the halfway mark. It's a very intense, acute, and somewhat searing sensation at the base of the abdomen, near the pelvic bone. I was a little nervous as I hadn't expected that, but Google, other mamas, and then my midwife confirmed it was just the stretching of my ligaments to allow for the uterus to grow. The pain wasn't exactly a highlight, but my ever-increasing wonder at how this all happens was.

My second trimester ended just as we headed down to Sicily, and now I'm squarely (and moderately comfortably) ensconced in my third. I can't quite believe that we're already at this point—the first few months seemed to go so slowly and now we're racing through autumn to meet our December baby.

+ + +

More on Swedish healthcare, prenatal care and giving birth in Sweden:



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One year ago: Postcard from Andalucía: Conil de la Frontera
Two years ago: Autumnal things: walks and more knits

Monday, October 12, 2015

A list of current loveliness

Cafè Latte Chappals knit baby booties  |  A list of current loveliness on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

  • The heady scent from the vaseful of lilies in full, unfurled mode in our entryway (which I get to snuffle up every 90 minutes as I follow my current pregnant lady bathroom visitation schedule). 
  • The smoky scent of firewood burning from Swedish fireplaces that can be detected almost every time I walk outside.
  • The best part of darkness coming early in the evenings now—that being candles lit throughout the apartment on the dot at 6PM, moody/jazzy Spotify playlists playing (recent favorites include Coffee Table Jazz and Smoky Supper Club), and card games and reading of spy novels taking center stage after dinner.
  • The newest additions to my collection of knit baby goodies that make me squee (despite having told myself that I need to start making larger baby clothes and then not even remotely attempting to do so). For example:

...these little booties which I've christened as "chappals", even though they aren't the right shape at all to be referred to as such, but it sounds right to me. I think I find these even more endearing thanks to the bunny rabbit modeling them (an odd gift sent to us by a website we'd booked a flight through).

Cafè Latte Chappals knit baby booties  |  A list of current loveliness on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Cafè Latte Chappals knit baby booties  |  A list of current loveliness on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com


Then there are these little bloomers or "soakers" (an unfortunate name for something meant to be worn over diapers) that I knitted after realizing I didn't even have one handmade "bottom" garment for the baby. I'm not quite sure how these are going to work out, based on seeing them in this 2-D situation, but fingers crossed this ends up being useful somehow.

Knit Baby Bloomers  |  A list of current loveliness on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Knit Baby Bloomers  |  A list of current loveliness on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com


And finally, this teeny, tiny sweater that I'm hoping will at least fit for an hour. It came out incredibly small (thanks to having to use smaller needles than intended by the pattern since my larger ones broke a year ago and I've yet to replace them), but no matter, holding this delicious Lamana Cusco yarn in my hands was reward enough for knitting this, should it not ever fit. I began knitting it in Stockholm, but finished it on/in (air conditioned) planes and cars in Sicily.

Gray Sky Cardigan knit baby sweater  |  A list of current loveliness on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Gray Sky Cardigan knit baby sweater  |  A list of current loveliness on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Next up: some much bigger garments in the few weeks I have left before the intended recipient arrives.

(Insert unprepared shriek here.)

P.S. Project notes are up on Ravelry.

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One year ago: Fall fika at Svindersviks Brygghus in Nacka & Tangled up in cream
Two years ago: The international travel essential we forgot

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Postcard from Lampedusa

Riserva Naturale Spiaggia dei Conigli, Rabbit Island Nature Reserve, Lampedusa Sicily  |  Postcard from Lampedusa on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Our trip to Sicily last month meant we could continue the unintentional tradition we've followed since we were married, that being, we spend my birthday away from home.

During our first year of marriage, like this year, we spent most of September in Sicily, but that year there was an additional impetus for our visit—R's brother, an elected official of the city at the time, conducted a civil marriage ceremony for us amongst R's family and friends that couldn't make it to the U.S. the year before for our wedding.

Two days after the ceremony we flew southwest to Lampedusa, the largest of the islands in Sicily's Pelagie island chain. It's only 70 miles from Africa (Tunisia), while Sicily is 127 miles away in the opposite direction.



The year after that we flew from NYC to Sicily in September again, but we made it back just before my birthday, so it doesn't actually count (although since I was still sporting tan lines from the beach there on my actual birthday, maybe it does?).

The following year was our ill-fated trip to New Orleans. Then our tour around the island of St. Lucia. And last year, our incredible road trip through Andalucía.

This year, though, back to Sicily. After we booked our flights R suggested we book another set to Lampedusa for my birthday, a place that was etched in my mind from my last one there because of the breathtaking colors of its water, its tasty crudo (Italy's take on sashimi), and the simple beauty of its arid landscape.

As I would be almost 7 months pregnant, though, I wasn't too sure how I'd feel about experiencing the desert heat of Lampedusa without being able to cool down with some of the island's delectable crudo delicacies.

But then I thought of the water—as seen above—and agreed.

Hotel Cupola Bianca pool + garden, Lampedusa Sicily  |  Postcard from Lampedusa on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Hotel Cupola Bianca pool + garden, Lampedusa Sicily  |  Postcard from Lampedusa on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Hotel Cupola Bianca pool + garden, Lampedusa Sicily  |  Postcard from Lampedusa on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
We arrived in the early afternoon and checked into the elegant, yet low-key, Hotel Cupola Bianca, a lovely little property that R found. Last time we stayed in town, but this time we opted for a more relaxing and resort-y ambiance a 20-minute walk from the main drag.

Despite the desert heat, the hotel had a lush garden filled with bougainvillea and plumeria, at the center of which was a pool edged by palm trees, olive trees and dark wood chaise lounges. A few steps away were the small casitas where we stayed, each with its own terrace, perfect for drying our beach gear every evening.

Also in the garden: a small restaurant where we had dinner our first night and breakfast every morning of our stay.

Hotel Cupola Bianca pool + garden, Lampedusa Sicily  |  Postcard from Lampedusa on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Hotel Cupola Bianca villa, Lampedusa Sicily  |  Postcard from Lampedusa on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

Between breakfast and dinner we drove around in our little rental beach car to explore the different cale (small bays) around the craggy-cliffed island.

On our first full day we did the easy 20'ish minute hike (easier for me since I wasn't carrying our beach bag and a very serious umbrella) down to the Isola dei Conigli (Island of the Rabbits), a nature reserve and beach that has been voted one of the most beautiful in the world.

Riserva Naturale Spiaggia dei Conigli, Rabbit Island Nature Reserve, Lampedusa Sicily  |  Postcard from Lampedusa on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Riserva Naturale Spiaggia dei Conigli, Rabbit Island Nature Reserve, Lampedusa Sicily  |  Postcard from Lampedusa on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Riserva Naturale Spiaggia dei Conigli, Rabbit Island Nature Reserve, Lampedusa Sicily  |  Postcard from Lampedusa on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

We'd been there before and knew that the pros (gorgeous, crystal clear water, white sand, and stunning views) far outweighed the cons (the hike down and the lack of beach loungers for rent or any other services), especially since the cons weren't really cons.

We'd rented an umbrella before making the descent and packed food and drinks, so we were all set to laze the day away there.

Riserva Naturale Spiaggia dei Conigli, Rabbit Island Nature Reserve, Lampedusa Sicily  |  Postcard from Lampedusa on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Riserva Naturale Spiaggia dei Conigli, Rabbit Island Nature Reserve, Lampedusa Sicily  |  Postcard from Lampedusa on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Riserva Naturale Spiaggia dei Conigli, Rabbit Island Nature Reserve, Lampedusa Sicily  |  Postcard from Lampedusa on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com


On our second day on Lampedusa we explored a brand new spot: Cala Pulcino, a place that was partly chosen for its cute name (pulcino means baby chick). After parking our car we headed to the path leading down to the beach, passing a sign with an indecipherable set of numbers that should have informed us how far the hike down was and about how long it would take. Too bad we didn't try harder to figure out what the numbers meant or to Google a bit about that particular cala before we ended up on what turned out to be a 45-minute hike down a very rocky path (in flip flops).

We were quite charmed by the path at the beginning, being as we were somehow in a fragrant pine forest that provided lots of shade. But then the forest ended and we were under the blazing sun at 11AM, squeezing ourselves between narrow rock faces and down an uneven rocky path.

But we knew (hoped) it wouldn't be that much longer to get to the beach, where we could finally take a dip and cool down.

Unfortunately, that didn't happen. A combination of high tide and the scirocco wind that was blowing during our entire visit created an even higher-than usual tide so the beach we arrived at didn't match the pictures at the link above—instead, all we saw were black stones the size of baguettes and dinner rolls leading to black boulders one would need to clamber over or around to reach the water.

Not exactly our hoped-for beach experience.

R leaned against a boulder while I plopped myself on a rock, we both took large swigs of water and then, without even discussing it, we turned and began the 45-minute hike (and by then it was noon) all the way back up, not even bothering to take a picture. When I stopped to catch my breath in a pocket of shade, a group of Italians passing us on their way down stopped to make sure I was okay (I felt completely fine, just your normal "whoa it's hot and I need to relax for a moment", but I'm sure I looked much more distressed).

By the time we reached the top we were ready for something easy—and having warned some people who were heading down that they might want to reconsider while they were still near the top and learning from them that Cala Pisana was a nice, non-strenuous beach experience (pictured below), we decided to head there.

They were right—it was beautiful: a small beach with chaise lounges for rent at the head of a cala bordered on both sides with flat spaces etched into the cliffs where people could lay out their own towels and chairs. And in the middle? Gorgeous, gorgeous water.

The only problem, though, was that it was already well into the middle of the day by the time we made it there, and there was literally no place for us to set ourselves up for a relaxing afternoon.

So: we headed back to our hotel and cooled off in the garden and pool.

Cala Pisana, Lampedusa Sicily  |  Postcard from Lampedusa on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Cala Pisana, Lampedusa Sicily  |  Postcard from Lampedusa on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com



On our last full day we rented beach loungers on the low-lying cliffs surrounding Cala Croce, a cala we'd spotted our second night in town when R took me out for my birthday dinner to the most perfect of restaurants: Cavalluccio Marino.

It's not located in the town, but rather on a cliff edging Cala Croce with a lovely terrace where we dined two nights in a row (it was that good). As there are no structures around the hotel, and a drop down into the water was not too far away, the ambiance was wonderfully isolated beyond the warm glow of the restaurant's lighting, yet lively within it.

The people that work there were kind and welcoming (and congratulatory), while the food was outstanding. So outstanding that when R tasted my exquisite pasta (a linguine with prawns, chilies, and silky, caramelized onions), he quickly finished his own (a black squid ink ravioli) and ordered another dish of mine.

(This is one of the many reasons a nice long walk was necessary upon our return.)

By the time we were boarding our flight back to Sicily proper we were significantly tanned (me so much so that I remained under my hat and under an umbrella for the entire rest of our trip), full of seafood, and completely blissed out.

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One year ago: Postcard from Andalucía: Nerja & Marbella & Sunday in Sigtuna
Two years ago: Properly ushering Autumn in